If you had any doubt that Roma's summer 2020 transfer ambitions revolved around the respective futures of Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, then look no further than our transfer section; the two EPL imports have dominated the Roma rumor mill for the past six weeks. Adding further fuel to those stories is the uncertain future of the club itself. If the Friedkin takeover had gone off without a hitch and we had a clearer picture of the club's finances, we'd be able to broaden our transfer scopes, but without knowing who will own the club, how much debt will or will not be erased and how much money Gianluca Petrachi will have to play with (if he's even still with the club), it's practically impossible to discuss any traditional cash-for-player transfers.
We've spoken many times about the free agent market—and it seems like Roma may have already landed Giacomo Bonaventura—but given everything we just discussed, as well as their importance to Paulo Fonseca, the futures of Smalling and Mkhitaryan are necessarily holding everything else up.
In yesterday's roundup, we talked briefly about Manchester United lowering their demands for Smalling a tad—somewhere in the €20 million range—but there hasn't been much movement on the Mkhitaryan front of the past few weeks.
According to sources in the English press, Roma may have inadvertently dealt Arsenal an ultimatum. With Roma (thus far at least) unwilling to purchase Mkhitaryan outright, the Express has speculated that the two clubs could come to a unique agreement for the 31-year-old midfielder.
While the Gunners want an immediate cash injection for Mkhitaryan, the Express speculates that Roma and Arsenal will agree to another year-long loan of Mkhitaryan, with a mandatory obligation to buy come June 30, 2021. That seems like a sensible compromise, but since Mkhitaryan's contract actually expires on that same day, this move would require Arsenal to extend and/or renegotiate his contract.
In essence, this deal hinges upon one thing: how badly do Arsenal want to get rid of him right now? Is accepting a slightly smaller fee next summer better than nothing at all?
Without any other suitors right now, Arsenal have very little leverage in this situation, and since they have little practical use for Mkhitaryan, would they be willing to scoff at this deal?
Certainly renegotiating a player's contract, loaning him back to the very same club, and then hashing out a transfer fee for June 2021 is a circuitous route to save face, but what other choice does Arsenal really have?
This arrangement makes a lot of sense for Roma and Mkhitaryan, so if they can get Arsenal on board and have them essentially negotiate his Roma contract beyond 2020 season, then this could come together rather quickly.